The 7 life goals in my planner

Setting goals is an important part of being productive. Having goals gives you something to work towards, so you are more likely to achieve it (and feel a sense of accomplishment). Goals also can give purpose and meaning to work and life. Purpose and accomplishment are two facets of positive psychology, so goal setting is not only about productivity but about proactive and positive mental health.

Life can be divided into different domains, all of which could have goals attached to them. But what domains should you use? And why bother setting goals?

Why set life goals?

Setting goals is part of creating a meaningful life. According to Greater Good in Action, setting and committing to goals helps hone purpose and give meaning to life. In their ‘Life Crafting’ activity, they suggest four steps to goal setting.

  1. Identify your values. We have a list of values and words here to help you choose what is most important to you. Another activity to help identify your values is to go through your photo gallery and select the 5 that make you feel happy and give meaning. These probably relate to your core values and the important things in your life.
  2. Reflect on your ideal future. Imagining your best life, what would your relationships, work, and leisure time look like? What would you like to be and have achieved in 5 or 10 years? What are the steps each year that will get you there?
  3. Set your goals. Write your goals in order of priority, with steps for how to achieve them and how to track progress.
  4. Stay accountable. Make a public commitment to your friends and family so you stay accountable to your goals.

Life Domains for setting goals

We surveyed the top sites and research on life domains and goal setting. In essence, life domains are the values that guide the important areas that make up a full life.

Different people have divided life into anywhere from 4 to 12 different domains, with an average of 8 domains in our sample. And there were a wide range of different domain titles, with over 20 different categories represented. Drawing on psychological research, Vanderweele (2017) included the 5 domains of spirituality, family, work, health, and community, as part of promoting a flourishing life. But if those categories sound too limiting, others also include love, finance, fun, recreation, and several more.

Top 5 life domains

The most common 5 domains to set goals in are health and fitness, career, relationships, finance, and fun and recreation.

Health and Fitness

Health and fitness includes physical health, fitness, and body. Goals in this category might include habit forming around healthy eating, regular exercise, aerobic or weight lifting goals, beauty goals, or sports event goals like running a marathon.

Career

The career, work, business and/or job domain is also very common. Given that you probably spend more waking hours at work than any other activity, it’s not surprising. Being happy and successful in your job improves your life satisfaction, and can benefit another popular goal category of money. Goals in the career category might include going for promotion, engaging in self-education, hitting sales milestones or completing projects.

Relationships

The relationships domain has many other names, including romance, love, marriage/partner, and sex life. This category is distinct from family, friends, social life and community. This category is specifically about the close, intimate relationship(s) you have. Goals might include having regular date nights, finding a long-term partner, speaking your partner’s love language every day, or signing up to a dating app.

Finance

This domain is called anything from money, finance, wealth, investing or savings. While money can’t make you happy, having enough can lead to a higher quality of life. Goals might include hitting a savings target, investing regularly, paying off a mortgage, or learning how to budget.

Fun and Recreation

The fifth most common life domain is fun and recreation. This includes travel/fun, hobbies, adventure, lifestyle, fun and joy, and passions. The Fun category is pretty broad, and is around doing things you enjoy and create memories. Goals might include travel plans, a new hobby to take up, a bucket list of adventure activities (skydiving anyone?) or craft projects to complete. While it may seem a rich person’s life domain, fun and recreation doesn’t have to be an expensive category filled with overseas destinations and luxurious passions. It could include national parks to hike through, botanical gardens to enjoy, and hanging out with friends for crafternoons.

The top 12 domains

In addition to the 5 domains above of health and fitness, career, relationships, finance and fun, there were another 7 domains that were popular.

Personal Development – goals around self-education and learning, sometimes called intellectual life, self-esteem, education or personal growth.

Family – goals specific to family, including parenting and children.

Spiritual – goals including spiritual practice, meditation and prayer.

Social – this category is distinct from family and relationships and relates to friends and friendship.

Community – it sounds like relationships gets another flag here, but community is the connections you have to your local community. It might include goals around community participation, connection to neighbours, and engagement in civic life.

Home – this broad domain relates to home organisation, home improvements, and home life.

Self-care – wellness, mental health, mindfulness, and other “self-care” activities that prompt a positive outlook on life and resilience.

More domains to consider for goal setting

There were even more life domains included by only one source each. These domains weren’t very popular, but do show the large range of categories that different people include in their goals.

These life domains included:

  • Environment
  • Standard of Living
  • Creativity
  • Personal style
  • Garden/Yard
  • Side Projects/Side Hustle
  • Retirement
  • Legacy/Giving back
  • Lifestyle
  • Bucket List

The top 16 life domains:

The 7 life goals in my planner

My personal planner goals are under a mix of the standard domains, with a couple of unique categories thrown in.

While setting goals in the common life areas can be helpful to create a balanced, flourishing life, you may also have specific values that drive your goals with purpose and passion. My personal mix of domains and goals include:

  1. Family – for me, this includes parenting goals around my children and their therapies, and marriage goals.
  2. Heath and fitness – for me, this includes healthy eating and physical activity goals. Working towards a daily dozen for meals, and heading towards a 10 km run are the goals.
  3. Home and Garden – given how much time we spend at home, I have goals around home organisation and garden projects because this makes me feel content. Being consistent with a cleaning schedule for a tidy home, and updating a forgotten section of the back yard are in my goals.
  4. Travel – we don’t have big travel plans, but do set goals around supporting local communities through tourism or exploring the outdoors.
  5. Money – this includes savings and investing plans, and side hustle goals.
  6. Eco – driven by a value of sustainability, these goals are around reducing our carbon emissions and waste.
  7. Work – for me, this includes goals around outcomes I want to achieve at work.

Writing goals that work

Goals without targets or actions can be almost impossible to achieve.

Successful goals i.e. goals that are actually met, tend to be those that are specific and have clear actions and timelines associated with them. While a SMARTAR goal might be a format that works for you, what’s important is that you can identify the habits (or actions) required to achieve that goal and focus on that.

As an example, you might have a goal of becoming fit and happy with your body that can run 10 km.

But if you want to achieve that goal, you’d better focus on the habits and actions that will increase fitness. So, you might have a goal of following a couch to 10km plan for the next 12 weeks. This might include sub-goals of getting out of the house and running 2-3 times a week. You might reward yourself after sticking to the plan for 6 weeks, achieving your first 10 km, or having running dates with friends for accountability.

Maybe you want to be financially independent and have a savings account with 6 months of expenses as a safety net. To achieve that goal, you’ll need to put into place habits of regularly and consistently saving each pay cycle. A key part of this habit is automation. Automatically transferring that money into a savings account so you don’t have to think about it, and will power doesn’t come into play. Focus on making the habits happen and the goals will be achieved naturally.

I like breaking my life goals into 5 year goals (based on the Ideal Future Me in the Step 2 of Life Crafting above). These goals I break down into yearly goals, with either daily or weekly habits.

Want to super charge your goals?

For a super charged reflection on the past year, your purpose, values, and future goals, you can’t go past the YearCompass. This free downloadable booklet is available in many languages, and works you through a complete reflection of your life goals.

100 life goals

Not sure what goals to write? Here’s a brainstorm of 100 goals (+ suggested habits) across the 12 most common life domains to kick start your goal setting and purpose.

Health and Fitness

  1. Be able to run 5/10/21/42 km. Run 3 times a week in the mornings, with a friend.
  2. Improve muscle tone. Lift weights 2 times a week, increasing reps or weights.
  3. Complete 100 push ups/squats/burpees. Each day, complete one rep +1 more until you are doing 100 in one session.
  4. Improve flexibility. Stretch or do yoga everyday for 10 minutes before bed to gradually increase flexibility.
  5. Have radiant skin. Complete a skin care routine every day, or drink 1L of water every day and track your commitment.
  6. Cut out sugar/caffeine/meat. Find 3-10 recipes or alternatives that replace what you are cutting out. Have those ready when you feel a craving and track your progress.
  7. Learn how to cook a healthy meal at home. Borrow a recipe book a month from the library and cook one new healthy recipe each weekend until confident with a new repertoire of home cooked meals.
  8. Be proactive about health conditions. Go see a doctor every 6 months and explore treatment options with consistency.
  9. Go screen free and improve sleep. Finish screen time one hour before bed by charging devices outside the bedroom and reading in bed instead. Hold one screen free day every month with the family and schedule it in the diary with alternative activities.

Career

  1. Get a new job. Apply for 5 jobs and seek feedback on each application to improve.
  2. Get a promotion or raise. Complete projects, compile your outcomes and achievements, and book an appointment in 6 months with your boss to request a raise.
  3. Grow your leadership skills. Watch 5 videos or books on leadership and take notes. Apply these in your next meeting by building them into the schedule/agenda.
  4. Build your skill set. Ask to be included in projects or tasks that will expand your skill set. Shadow someone, take on a new project, or do training in that area.
  5. Expand your work network. Go to a conference, ask your boss for a connection, or reach out to people to expand your work network.
  6. Approach a mentor. Ask someone to be your mentor and set up regular monthly sessions to meet. Document in a journal.
  7. Develop your professional knowledge. Read one book a month connected to your work. Take notes in a journal to document your professional knowledge.
  8. Complete tasks well and feel accomplished at work. Have a list of tasks or projects to complete and block time each week until they are achieved.

Relationships

  1. Improve your relationship through spending time together. Book in a babysitter and a novel date night each month.
  2. Improve your relationship by talking to each other. Block time in the calendar to chat over a cup of tea 3 nights a week.
  3. Improve your relationship by learning each other’s love language. Read the Love Languages book and use your partner’s preferred love language once a week.
  4. Find a partner. Sign up to a dating app and go on one date each weekend to find a partner.
  5. Get married. Make a giant list of things to-do for the marriage ceremony, book a date, and make it happen.
  6. Increase your intimacy. Watch a video or read a book for ideas and schedule regular times in the diary.

Money/Finance

  1. Save 3 months of expenses. Each pay cycle, automatically transfer out a fixed amount into a long-term savings account until you reach the goal.
  2. Pay off the mortgage/debts. Each pay cycle, automatically transfer money into your debts/credit card/mortgage until it’s paid off.
  3. Refinance and save. Make time each lunch time one week to call your bank, insurance companies and health insurance to ask for better deals. Set aside time to research and switch if you can get better premiums and cover elsewhere.
  4. Save towards your super. Find the form to salary sacrifice at your work and commit to regular savings into your super fund each pay cycle. Can you match your employer contribution?
  5. Invest in your financial knowledge. Borrow 10 books from the library on money, budgeting, investing, and saving. Read them one a month and apply what you learn to your financial management.
  6. Create a budget. Use a 3 bucket system, an envelop system, an electronic app or whatever system you prefer to create, track and stick to a budget.
  7. Save for a goal. Save for something you want like a holiday. Work out the expense, how much time you have until the event. Divide the expense by how many weeks/fortnights until the event and then automatically save that much into a savings account to reach your goal.
  8. Go frugal. Use a shopping list and shop online to keep the weekly shop to a fixed amount like $100/a family of four.

Fun and Recreation

  1. Travel to a destination. Choose a destination and a time. Save for it, research it, and go on the holiday. Go local to support your community with tourism.
  2. Start a new hobby. Go online and find a class. Book in and attend your new hobby class. Put the dates in the diary so you don’t forget.
  3. Go skydiving. Grab a friend and book a date to go. Don’t chicken out!
  4. Explore your local backyard. Find a local map and choose 5 places you’ve never been. Go and explore those walks, activities or places like a tourist in your own backyard.
  5. Hike a famous trail. Find a walking trail and complete it from start to finish (it doesn’t have to be done all in one session!)
  6. Go camping with the family. Find a campsite, book in, and go camping with the family. Borrow the equipment you might need from friends if you’re not set up for camping overnight.
  7. Learn a new instrument. Get a music book or an app with sheet music and practice new songs until you can play them by heart.
  8. Create something by hand. Sew an outfit, cook a meal, stitch craft, paint canvas… Set aside monthly time to work towards your project with friends.

Personal Development

  1. Learn a new language. Use Duolingo every day until you get a streak of 365 days.
  2. Learn a new skill. For example sewing, car maintenance, paving, coding or cooking.
  3. Read a book. Read a new one each week to improve your mind.
  4. Write a book. Share your thoughts with the world!
  5. Grow your Brain and keep it healthy. Solve a puzzle each day for brain health (wordle anyone?)
  6. Become a Geography whiz. Learn countries and flags using a geography app.
  7. Boost literacy or numeracy. Practice your maths or spelling with a game app.
  8. Learn something new. Go to a conference or workshop to learn something new and network.
  9. Practice public speaking. Present at a conference to develop your public speaking skills.

Family

  1. Become a better parent. Read a parenting book and implement effective communication with kids.
  2. Establish chores. Set up a chore system to have kids contribute to the household and build daily living skills.
  3. Develop more independent kids. Teach kids how to cook and clean once a week.
  4. Establish pocket money. Set up a pocket money system for kids and stick to it.
  5. Contribute to the future. Open up savings/investment accounts for children and contribute to them each month – watch them grow.
  6. Store memories. Create a photo album (digital or physical) and sort all the family photos to create a memory file for children.
  7. Be proactive around getting supports and intervention. If required, pursue appropriate diagnosis for a child and follow up on therapies or medication.
  8. Create peaceful routines. Create routines for morning and afternoon to get into the habit of homework etc.
  9. Look after a new family member. Get a family pet and teach children how to look after them for responsibility, care and companionship.
  10. Make memories. Do activities together every weekend as a family to create 52 memories over the course of a year and be more connected to each other.

Spiritual

  1. Write a family prayer. Create a family prayer and say it before bed.
  2. Read a whole text. Read a spiritual text over a year.
  3. Practice meditation. Commit to daily practice of meditation for 10 minutes in the morning.
  4. Join a community. Join a worship community and attend regularly.
  5. Create a spiritual songs playlist. Listen to it in the car.

Social

  1. Nurture your close friendships. Set regular dates to meet with friends, like a monthly craft-afternoon, or a Thursday afternoon phone call.
  2. Make new friends. Join a club or society to make new friends.
  3. Celebrate friendships over food. Hold a 3 course dinner party for your closest friends to show off your cooking skills and hosting skills.
  4. Practice event planning. Have a birthday party and invite all your friends.
  5. Friends = therapy. Set a time (like the work commute) and call a friend every week to chat and build connection.
  6. Exercise therapy. Set up a regular evening walking date with a friend for free therapy chats and physical activity.
  7. Show gratitude for friends. Write a letter of gratitude to a close friend.
  8. Be more organised for important social events. Get on top of birthdays and anniversaries by buying cards/presents in bulk and documenting dates in a planner.
  9. Make new friends and learn new things. Take up a new hobby and make new friends by attending classes.
  10. Get connected online. Find an online group and join the community.

Community

  1. Promote advocacy. Write a letter to your local member about an issue you care about once a month.
  2. Be part of the community. Meet your neighbours and record their names so you don’t forget.
  3. Be part of the community. Join a community group like a school parent group, a council network, or a clean-up/gardening group to give back to your area.
  4. Be part of the community. Walk in your neighbourhood to learn its history and features.
  5. Make a difference. Run for local government to make a difference in your area.
  6. Be part of the community. Host a street party and invite all your neighbours to build community.
  7. Be part of the community. Go to a local event like a market or meet-and-greet to shop local and support your area.
  8. Be part of the community. Find your closest local library and visit.

Home

  1. Organise the pantry. Get set up with containers, jars and labels to organise the pantry.
  2. Organise the linen cupboard. Get organised with labels, baskets and a clean cupboard and sort out your linen cupboard.
  3. Set up a regular cleaning schedule. Commit to a regular schedule so the house stays clean and tidy.
  4. Re-decorate a room. Pick a room that needs some work and make it a project.
  5. Tidy up a room like a junk room a messy bedroom, kid’s toys or just a wardrobe.
  6. Create a garden plan/design. Select the whole yard or just a section to design and create.
  7. Plant a vegetable garden. Get the kids out in the garden and plant a vegetable garden for fresh herbs and veg.
  8. Plant a flower bed. Pretty up an area of the garden or make a kids’ flower bed for them to plant their favourite flowers in.
  9. Organise your important files and documents for easy reference. Set up an organisation system either digital or physical so you have safe storage and easy access.
  10. Go paperless with your bills. Contact all bill providers to set up digital invoices, direct debits and re-negotiate rates and deals to get the best value for money.

Self-care and Wellbeing

  1. Establish a wellbeing routine. Regularly meditate every morning.
  2. Establish a wellbeing routine. Keep a gratitude journal or note your three things you are grateful for before bed.
  3. Establish a wellbeing routine. Keep a regular sleep schedule to improve your waking mood.
  4. Establish a wellbeing routine. Set regular times for connecting with friends.
  5. Establish a wellbeing routine. Download a meditation or grounding app and practice every week.
  6. Establish a wellbeing routine. Talk regularly to a trusted professional for proactive mental health.
  7. Establish a wellbeing routine. Keep a journal to build resilience.
  8. Establish a wellbeing routine. Read three books on wellness and select strategies that work for you.
  9. Establish a wellbeing routine. Challenge yourself with something really difficult so build resilience.

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